Bereavement damages: an award or an insult?
A heavily pregnant mother became concerned because she could not feel her baby moving. She telephoned the hospital who advised her not to worry and to continue counting fetal movements.
The Claimant’s allegation was that this was incorrect advice and had she been asked to come into hospital for foetal monitoring, staff would have discovered that the baby was becoming distressed and this would have led to an immediate caesarean section, resulting in the delivery of a healthy baby.
In the event, the mother remained at home following the telephone advice but she was still concerned due to lack of movement and took it upon herself to attend hospital a few hours later. On arrival there were further delays in commencing the CTG and summoning help. Had staff on the Maternity Unit acted more quickly, they would have ordered an immediate caesarean section which is likely to have resulted in a safe birth and healthy baby.
Unfortunately following poor advice over the telephone and delays when the mother took it upon herself to attend in any event meant that the delivery was delayed by around 3 hours. The baby had sustained a period of chronic partial asphyxia in the hours leading up to his birth leaving him with severe brain damage. He developed cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs and was also registered blind.
This was a high risk case involving damage which possibly occurred over a long period of time and was fought on both liability and on quantum, settling at a Round Table Meeting shortly before the full trial.
Having now settled the case, a Deputy at Kingsley Napley LLP is being appointed to manage the compensation award.
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